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Pakistan Press ( 17 Dec 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press On Pakistan and Saudi Arabia-UAE Dynamics and Army Public School Peshawar: New Age Islam's Selection, 17 December 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

17 December 2020

• Pakistan And Saudi Arabia-UAE Dynamics

By Inam Ul Haque

• In Loving Memory of Our Army Public School Peshawar, Heroes

By Anum Siddique

• If Pakistan Has To Change Society, It Needs To Change Men, Not Women.

By Kamila Hyat

• East Pakistan: A Stolen Victory

By Shahrukh Mehboob

• Forty-Nine Years On

By S Qaisar Shareef


Pakistan and Saudi Arabia-UAE Dynamics

By Inam Ul Haque

December 16, 2020



Alot has happened, at least in the perceptual domain, since August 27, 2020, when I wrote “The imperatives of Pak-Saudi relations”, published in this space. And perceptions are critical to any relationship. Then… the interdependent nature of our historic and deep-rooted ties was emphasised. However, in the past six months, there have been some defining developments that would continue to underpin Pak-Saudi bilateral ties as long as Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) holds the reins of the kingdom.

First development concerns Saudi financial package. The $6.2 billion package included $3 billion in cash assistance (with 3.2% interest payable); and $3.2 billion in deferred payment for annual oil and gas supply. The package was for one year with a roll-over option for three years. The kingdom has demanded its money ($3 billion) ahead of the schedule. The oil facility stands suspended.

Pakistan repaid $1 billion to the kingdom in May this year after securing an equal amount in loan from China. And now China has again agreed to provide $1.5 billion, enabling Pakistan to repay the remaining Saudi debt. Pakistan was to retire $1 billion this week. The remaining $1 billion is due in January 2021. The way this issue has been handled, is not pretty.

The second issue concerns worker visas. Though the Saudi Ambassador did clarify last week that the kingdom was deporting all workers — irrespective of nationality — who did not have valid documents; Pakistanis would be disproportionately affected. And if you combine the UAE’s recent denial of visit visas to tourists from some 13 mostly Muslim majority nations including Pakistan, the move creates perceptual misunderstandings.

The third development is the six-day UAE (December 9-10) and KSA (December 13-14) visit by Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane, the Indian Army Chief; the first such visit by an Indian army chief. Gen Naravane’s visit took place immediately after the Indian External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar’s trips to UAE and Bahrain.

Understandably, India imports 18% of its crude oil requirements from the kingdom, which is India’s fourth-largest trading partner after China, the US and Japan. Both UAE and Saudi Arabia consider India as a major energy consumer and are building a massive $42 billion petrochemical plant in Maharashtra. The Gulf region hosts around 8.5 million Indian workers, with more than 2.7 million in Saudi Arabia alone. Almost 30% of UAE’s total population comprises Indians.

Assertive diplomacy by PM Modi has altered perceptions to an extent where his overtly anti-Muslim policies raise no eyebrows in the Gulf. The Modi government has actively wooed the kingdom, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait. After assuming office in 2014, Modi has visited the GCC countries eight times; UAE thrice and Saudi Arabia twice.

In October 2019, during his Saudi visit, both countries decided to establish the Strategic Partnership Council (SPC); India being the fourth country having strategic partnership with the kingdom after the UK, France, and China. This fits well with the kingdom’s “Vision-2030” roadmap to diversify its economy and better utilise the Khaleeji or Gulf capital, rather than keeping it in Western banks. The kingdom and UAE feel that India is better placed to economically help them given her size, resources and industrial potential.

Militarily, Saudi Arabia and India have formed a Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation (JCDC) with delegation-level visits since 2018. The Royal Saudi Armed Forces officers are to train at Indian defence training institutes. Joint exercises have commenced alongside port calls and plans for joint production of spare parts for naval and land systems.

With UAE, India has a Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC). Regular joint exercises, visit exchanges, port calls and talks on defence manufacturing and space exploration are underway. India, UAE navies conducted a joint exercise, ‘Gulf Star I’ off the UAE coast in 2018. Their air forces have conducted joint exercises like ‘Desert Eagle II’ at the Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi. UAE has shown interest in the Indian military equipment like surface-to-air Akash missile and anti-ship BrahMos cruise missile, besides investment in India’s defense sector such as unmanned platforms, shipbuilding, armoured vehicles, munitions and small arms.

The trio actively collaborates on counterterrorism, intelligence-sharing and coordination.

The continued Saudi/UAE bonhomie with India is construed as hedging against Pakistan. And the “perceived” chasm is linked to Saudi/UAE resentment of Pakistan’s stand-offish Iran policy. Both also accuse Islamabad which — despite liberal financial assistance by Riyadh — did not keep its pledge to “protect Saudi territory” by not militarily joining the Saudi war in Yemen. Details were covered in my article, “The Saudi pivot, Pakistan and Kashmir — is there a chasm?” published in this newspaper on August 12 this year.

The Saudi-UAE combine is also ostensibly wary of the “Erdogan-effect” on Pakistan. After assuming power in 2002, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has visited Pakistan four times. There is growing cultural, defence and diplomatic cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey.

In my August 26 article, I optimistically wrote; “Who knows, an Indo-Saudi warming up may augment Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir.” FM Qureshi’s statement in Beijing after the second round of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue (August 20-21) was construed as a pressure tactic for the Saudi/UAE-dominated OIC to admonish India on Kashmir.

Consequently, the declaration after the 47th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers at Niamey, Niger (November 27-28, 2020) reiterated “… the OIC’s principled position on Jammu and Kashmir dispute”, calling for peaceful resolution according to the relevant UNSC resolutions. The outcome document in a comprehensive and strongly-worded resolution, included almost all points that Pakistan has been emphasising vis-à-vis Kashmir.

So the strands of Saudi policy gleaned from the above facts smack of a ‘carrot and stick approach’ wherein Saudi Arabia under its Crown Prince — who is in a hurry to redefine the regional order — simultaneously hedges against Pakistan and inclines to pro-Pakistan dynamics.

Though the historic constants of Pak-Saudi bilateralism — like religious affinity, Pakistan being the kingdom’s strategic depth, interdependence, military ties, etc — are in place, these are on hold due to a changed Saudi threat perception. Iran has replaced Israel in the Saudi/UAE threat perception and Israel brings India to the equation. India for its part would like to reduce its oil imports from Iran under the prevailing situation; and given the series of Israeli recognitions, the Saudi-UAE combine would like to rope in India that is closer to Israel.

A Saudi Arabia not sure of its place in the Biden administration is naturally frustrated. Loss of US reliability under Trump and Biden’s stated tough stance leaves the kingdom to look for alternatives.


In Loving Memory of Our Army Public School Peshawar, Heroes

By Anum Siddique

December 16, 2020

December has started, wrapped by freezing cold; days are flint-grey still…!! hidden behind the scene of smog. What I am able to gaze outside from windowpane, the shadow of skyrocketing buildings and naked trees. I was completely wondered how everything look likes calm, the only voice my ears were able to listen the steps crunching on dead leaves by school going children. Black-capped birds were not singing and sitting on bare trees because all flowers have been plucked and uncovered trees may not inspire you rather makes you miserable and sad.

December has begun; its arrival always takes me 6 years back and reminds the incidence of Army Public School Peshawar. It was the most horrifying day in the history of Pakistan which left deep scars on our souls. It is commonly said, that time heals every wound but after passing 6 years the wound is still raw with the same pain and we are as grieved as were day first. It was a bleak cold morning in Pakistan; sun was dull and veiled in icy fog. I exactly kept in my mind. it was Tuesday” an ill-fated day” 16 December 2014 when more than 141 citizen including innocent children and dedicated teachers were given the blood bath. if today we see those clips on our TV screen and take glance of that deadliest attack, our heart jumps to our mouth, we feel shiver from head to heel. Now imagine for a minute the sentiments of those martyrs’ mothers whose children went to school on their feet and came back on other’s shoulder.

This bloodiest attacked not only shook the nation but the entire world. No word can describe the mental ignominy of their households. All words of condemnation are failed in front of this atrocious attack of coward extremists. They did not think even for a single minute before opening the fire on innocent souls, who would have never think in their dreams that they were inhumanly killed in broad day light. The pictures of innocent angles in uniform filled with blood and their bodies riddled with bullets were the evidence of their defenselessness and helplessness.

Six years have gone, but still it’s hard to pen down the feelings of their parents. Everything is same, nothing looks have to alter at their homes; their parent’s hoping and waiting for justice to be provided, so they could sleep with calm mind. Even with empty arms and moaning eyes, their mothers singing cradle songs for their children. We cannot even understand the one percent of their sorrow; they all are experiencing the extreme melancholy which is heavier than the mountain.

Khaula Bibi

Who knew, six years old Khaula is going to school but will never come back. Yes it was her first day at school. She was extraordinary excited at last she has joined her siblings’ school but unfortunately it has become her last day of life. With hopeful eyes, Khaula’s mother still stared on the door that perhaps one day this door would be unlock and her daughter step in and give her a tight long hug. While from deep inside her heart is aware, it is just a dream which can never turn into reality.

Shahzad Ijaz

Shahzad Ijaz was the student of 8th class. He wanted to join air force as a flying officer. He was inspired by Shaheed Rashid Minhas. He was fond of collecting pictures of new air combat and fighter planes. In an interview his father told to media, on the day of attack Shahzad woke up early and saw his new dress was not properly organized which made him bit angry. He said to his mother hang my new dress in hanger in a proper way. This new dress brought for his interview of PAF collage but in the end he could not appear for the interview.  He had secured 90 percent marks in test, result came after his passing one week.

Usama Tahir

Usama was 16-year-old motivated guy who had huge wish to join Pakistan army and served his homeland. he was an exceptionally polite and kind hearted boy who was beloved by his parents and friends as well. He had strong conviction that militancy only can be removed by spreading education. He received several medals in table tennis and cricket. Additionally, his mother revealed that he liked chicken Karachi too much. Therefore, she always tried to make it possible her son never be disappointed on dining table.

Aimal Khan

Aimal Khan was 18 years old soft-hearted boy. He always remained worried for those poor labors that compelled to sleep on footpaths. He always showed compassion and sympathy towards deprived segment of the society. Apart from the good human being he was full of talent. He was famous for his car sketches that get viral on internal and received huge appreciation from the people. He had special interest in cars, he had renovated few cars with innovative style. His décor on car’s rim and seats paid him a handsome amount of money. According to his parents he was a very gentle child, they had never received any single complain of his son.

It is impossible to visualize how hard has become life for their parents, how difficult for them to breathing with dead dreams? Every parents holds same question in their soggy eyes, “Why our innocent kids have been selected to slaughter”?  These are just few stories among 144. To listen those stories, One must have stone instead of heart in his chest, but we are not daring enough to write and read them.

In spite of a huge armed operation Rad-ul-Fassad and Zarb-e-Azab in response to 16 December, but the extremists’ groups of Taliban continue to increase frequently assisted suicide attacks and other terrorist assault across the Pakistan. The philosophy of Terrorism is growing rapidly due to few Taliban Groups constantly to be tolerated by the Government. Subsequent to APS attack on 16 December 2014, a 20 point came into sight National Action Plan, a list of indicator what required to be done on urgent basis, approved by both political parties and civil-armed leadership. Unfortunately, this strategy did not work effectively and could not provide justice by hanging those culprits publically. Policy makers should re analyzes the existing policy and find out the loopholes which was the reason of failure. on the other hand, at individual level we need to stop indecisive on the matter of terrorism and take a hard decision to tackle this threat that put in danger the future of our nation.

With the fresh wound and moist eyes, I will just pray “May such kind of incident never happened again on this planet”.


If Pakistan Has To Change Society, It Needs To Change Men, Not Women

By Kamila Hyat

December 17, 2020

After the Senate passed a bill, which would allow men to take one-month paternity leave with full pay after the birth of a child, there has been greater attention on the issue of paternity in the country. The bill has now been approved by a standing committee in the National Assembly, and could go before the president for a final signature very soon.

The question is: how many men will avail of this new law? It is true that in many Scandinavian and other countries, men do take paternity leave. It is now a norm to see the father opting to take care of the new-born while the mother continues work. But this is unlikely to happen anytime soon in Pakistan. It seems that child care, like other household tasks, is something seen as purely the concern of the women in the family and not a question that men should address in any way. This is perhaps one of the reasons why housework is considered a low priority job. And housewives are forced into admitting, almost as if it were a crime, that they are 'merely' housewives (or home-makers).

Housework, of course, can be extremely arduous – all the more so when this is combined with rearing children, and dealing with all the many related concerns and issues, including that of schooling, health and related matters. Yet, men rarely come into the picture. This in itself is a signal that something is amiss with our society. While men claim they are too busy earning for families, the fact is that even President Obama during his eight years in power made it a point to take time off daily to spend time with his two daughters, talk to them and act as a normal family. While his girls were young, he read stories to them and spent as much time as he could with the growing family.

In our country, few men consider family or children more important than work. Most leave them entirely to mothers. And this, of course, is a pattern that extends further. It may be part of the reason why there's so much disrespect for women, or why the rate of rape, gang-rape and other crimes directed against them is so high. We hear of new crimes on almost a daily basis. And, according to the figures available, at least four rapes are committed each day, somewhere in the country. This is far too many.

The attitude of the police is even worse and fits in with the broader misogyny which is seen in many places, including talk shows on TV and also online, where, under the pretence of liberalism, there is a gentle attitude that women should not adopt certain behaviours, and restrict themselves far more than men.

We need to bring up our sons better. This has to be something that parents are made aware of. There's no reason why boys should be allowed to roam freely into the night, while girls are restricted from doing the same. It is true society is a more dangerous place for women. But it is dangerous because of the behaviour of boys and men and the attitudes they hold towards women. If boys were taught from a young age, to respect girls, to be polite, to be careful about addressing them and to treat them as equals, the rate of rape and other crimes directed against women including domestic violence may fall.

The example set by the government is not a good one either. One comment after the other, which is misogynist and directly aimed at hurting women comes from ministers and other members of the government. We have seen this in the attacks on Maryam Nawaz Sharif and on other women in politics. Even TV anchorpersons who happen to be female have been made the victims of chauvinistic jokes, some of them in the most ill taste and repeatedly targeted simply on the basis of their gender.

If we have to change society, we need to change men, not women. There's little purpose in putting women in white ‘dupattas’ or insisting that they stay at home when so many women face violence at home. And we hear account after account of little girls being molested or subjected to severe sexual abuse within what should be the safety of their homes. This is the truth we must face. The only solution is to bring boys up in a different way; to teach them that housework is something that everyone in the house should participate in, in one way or the other; that sisters are equal to brothers; that women may be different to men in some ways, but are still their equals. This is also a part of our religion.

The example should be set by leaders of the country and others who are prominent within it including clerics and celebrities of various kinds. Television dramas, which attempt to show the problems women face, have been condemned as being somehow obscene or unsuitable for our society. Nothing could be further from the truth. Such depiction of reality is necessary to bring home the truth. We should also understand that there is nothing wrong with women taking up public roles, as Maryam Nawaz Sharif has done. Other women have done the same before her, including Benazir Bhutto and others at a local level.

Indeed, we have a situation where girls outperform boys in many fields, including academics at all levels. Again, the reason for this may lie with the fact that there's more pressure on girls to perform well at school or face a possible withdrawal from education by their parents. Boys do not face the same level of pressure. Indeed, parents are often content to allow them to roam the streets, the rich in fast cars, the poor on their motorbikes and indulge in whatever behaviour they see as the norm and whatever the attitudes are pushed forward by their peers. This needs to change.

Taking part in housework, beginning at an early age, is one tool to change the manner in which boys learn to grow up. Only the most cowardly men attack women or make jokes directed towards them. The more confident, the more intelligent and those who are well brought up refrain from doing so and as such, create for women a better place to live as well as a society which is more united and more equal at all levels.


East Pakistan: A Stolen Victory

By Shahrukh Mehboob

December16, 2020

India stole a victory from Pakistan in 1971 at Dacca. As the people watched petrified with grief, the Armed Forces begged for battle and continuation of the struggle; they were prepared to offer a sacrifice of their very lives to save the integrity and honor of their country. Their commanders, however, whose weak wills had been conquered, abjectly and ignominiously, surrendered. The top brass of the time had ascended to high command, in spite of character defects caused by lust, greed cowardice, and a host of other similar weakness that plagued them, besides their astonishing lack and ignorance of our nation’s cultural values and stunning professional incompetence.

The system that let them ascend must, therefore, be examined by those who are responsible, the Government and the Armed Forces themselves, in order to avoid more catastrophes. However, such catastrophes as the one of 1971 are not the acts of a few individuals like Yahya, Niazi, etc, who may be conveniently utilized as scapegoats to wish away the collective guilt and let all others absolve themselves of it, feel smug, satisfied and happy, and consider all would be well in the future. Not so, in fact, the Armed Forces rank and file, the junior officers, the field officers, and each citizen of this Country, all need to carry out a profound and honest introspection as to what they did at the time to augment the nation’s strength, to maintain its integrity and retain its freedom. The resultant analysis is bound to bring home our individual shortcomings, lapses, and share of responsibility for the debacle.

India did not win the war, Pakistan lose it by default

In East Pakistan, even though Maulana Bhashani spoke for the peasants of the province, it was Sheikh Mujib, who, after raising his Six-Point Programme in 1966 for democracy and greater provincial autonomy, and who was implicated (but later released) in the Agartala Conspiracy Case in 1968, was fast emerging as the main voice of East Pakistani/Bengali nationalism when Ayub was forced out.

It is important to state that while some Bengali voices were challenging the unity of Pakistan, Mujib, at this political juncture, was still in favor of a united, democratic, federal Pakistan, despite the growing realization in the eastern wing that East Pakistan became a mere colony of West Pakistan. Under these circumstances, led by charismatic and populist leaders who had sat through 11 years of military rule, Yahya Khan announced elections for October 1970, doing away with the One Unit, giving the majority province on the basis of its population 162 seats in a parliament of 300. The 1970 election results went further in confirming these fears. Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League won 160 of the 162 seats in East Pakistan, giving it a majority in united Pakistan’s parliament. Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party won 81 seats out of 138 in West Pakistan, becoming the majority party in West Pakistan, mainly from Sindh and Punjab. The critical outcome from the 1970 elections was that neither of the two largest parties won a single seat in the other wing. Electorally, Pakistan stood divided. While the military’s Operation Searchlight in East Pakistan started in March 1971, the short period following the elections until the brutal military operations, clearly showed how the egos of a handful of West Pakistani politicians played out and were matched with the incompetence and unwillingness of the military leadership in understanding and addressing political issues. United Pakistan just might have been saved in these few weeks had the Punjabi-Muhajir military-bureaucratic leadership allowed the results of the 1970 elections to be honored. But this would have gone against their very own genius and their core material interests.

Moreover, there was one particular popular democrat who refused to acknowledge the democratic mandate which did not entirely suit him.

Soon after the election results, there was talk of having two prime ministers for Pakistan, with Bhutto apparently having agreed. Yahya, on the other hand, on a visit to Dhaka, called Mujib the “future prime minister of Pakistan”. On his return to West Pakistan from Dhaka, Yahya flew to Larkana to meet Bhutto, who advised Yahya not to give control of the National Assembly, and, hence, of Pakistan to Mujib. Bhutto flew to Dhaka to meet Mujib but talks clearly failed between the two leaders.

Eventually, India launched a military attack on East Pakistan in November, with (West) Pakistan attacking Indian Territory on Dec 3. Despite the fact that West Pakistanis were told as late as Dec 14 and 15 that they were winning the war, on Dec 16, 1971, Gen A.A.K. ‘Tiger’ Niazi, GOC, East Pakistan, surrendered to the Indian troops led by Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora in Dhaka. East Pakistan formally becomes Bangladesh. Not just had there been yet another partition in the Indian subcontinent, but Jinnah’s ‘two-nation theory’ had also come undone.

War is defined by Von Clausewitz, “As an instrument of policy”. The policy in 1971 did not exist because Gen Yahya did not have any clue about it, resulting in absolutely inappropriate political action. On the other hand, the Indians won a victory, at least in the technical sense, because they had recognized the need to win. They have been subjugated for centuries and desperately needed a victory of sorts to achieve their goal of “Unity in Diversity”. In 1962, they had been humiliated in the Himalayas by the armed forces of their great neighbor in the north. Then, in 1965, the numerically inferior Pakistanis fought them to a standstill. All these factors combined to make them perceive the need.

The deployment and operations, while further alienating the people, ignored the actual threat, which was an attack from India in the guise of a liberator who during the early part of summer had finalized its operational plans and started preparing thoroughly for a winter onslaught. That there were many a flaw in their planning as well as execution is of little help to us, as we had to plan at the national level. Our High Command refused to plan seriously because they had a readymade excuse: our friends, the USA and China did not provide sufficient help’. That was enough to allow them to retain power and indulge in base pursuits. Thus lip service, and only that, was given to defensive preparation against India.


Forty-Nine Years On

By S Qaisar Shareef

December 17, 2020

In recent months there has been an improvement in relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh. A couple of months ago, Prime Minister Imran Khan called Bangladesh Prime Minister Mrs Sheikh Hasina, and more recently the Pakistani ambassador in Dhaka also called on the Bangladesh prime minister.

These moves came as we approached the date of December 16, which will mark 49 years since the end of the civil war that led to the declaration of Bangladesh as an independent nation. East Pakistan was no more. The events leading up to the breakup of Pakistan are too painful to recount. Suffice it to say there was tremendous suffering on all sides.

The civil war was brought to an end on December 16, 1971 with the incursion of Indian troops into Dhaka. The dream of a unified country for the Muslims of British India was no more. It took several years before all the displaced people in Bangladesh who were from the western part of Pakistan were rejoined with their families in what remained as Pakistan. At the same time there were about half a million more among the total Bangladesh population of over 70 million, who were not ethnic Bengali. They were mostly Urdu speakers, immigrants to East Pakistan from various parts of British India. Over the years, many of them were able to migrate to Pakistan.

However, about 300,000 of these Urdu speakers were left behind in Bangladesh. The Pakistan government was unwilling or unable to take them in. And, being seen as non-Bengali Pakistanis, they were initially not accepted by Bangladesh. They had become stateless. For their protection, the International Red Cross housed them in makeshift camps across all of Bangladesh, most of which continue to exist today. These people – now the third generation of those who were there in 1971 – are eking out a subsistence living.

These people sometimes came to be referred to as “stranded Pakistanis”, which created a further hurdle to their acceptance into the Bangladeshi society. Over the years however, many in the younger generation of Urdu speakers petitioned the Bangladesh government asking to be recognized as legal citizens. In an act of magnanimity, the Bangladesh government granted them citizenship and they were issued official ID cards, along with voting rights.

A vast majority of these camp dwellers are now well adjusted into Bangladesh society, with fluent language skills, even though their economic situation remains precarious. Most camp dwelling families live in makeshift single room accommodations, with sparse communal sanitation and water facilities. I visited these camps earlier this year and saw the desperate situation in camps in Dhaka and Chittagong, but also felt a reason for hope.

Having won Bangladesh citizenship rights, the vast majority of these people have established themselves as patriotic Bangladeshis. As they get access to education, the camp dwellers are starting to pull themselves out of poverty. There is a small number of such people who have close family in Pakistan. Without jeopardizing their hard-won Bangladesh citizenship rights, they would greatly benefit from contact with their next of kin in Pakistan.

It is very encouraging to see steps by the Pakistan and Bangladesh governments to improve relations. The difficult history of the breakup of the country may take a long while yet to heal, but with goodwill on both sides progress can be made. Given the current geopolitical shifts in the region, both countries will benefit from establishing friendly relations.

In the meantime, the families left behind in Bangladesh deserve the support of both countries, and the assistance of humanitarian organizations that are able and willing to step up.



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